Indian farmers plan to enter New Delhi to intensify protests

  • World
  • Monday, 04 Mar 2024

FILE PHOTO: Farmers gesture towards police officers at the site of a protest as they march towards New Delhi to press for better crop prices, at Shambhu barrier, a border crossing between Punjab and Haryana states, India, February 21, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian farmers are planning to escalate their protests from Wednesday by entering the capital New Delhi by bus and train, and increasing their numbers at border points that are currently blocked by tractors.

Thousands of farmers began the "Delhi Chalo" (Let's go to Delhi) march last month but were stopped by security forces about 200 km (125 miles) north of the capital with teargas and water cannon.

The farmers, who are demanding higher prices for their crops, intensified their protest after several rounds of failed talks.

Farmers from various states, from Kerala in the south to Madhya Pradesh in central India, will arrive in New Delhi by trains and buses on Wednesday, Ramandeep Singh Mann, a farmer leader, told Reuters.

"Farmers from Punjab and Haryana will continue protesting at the existing protest sites with tractor trolleys. They will attempt to enter New Delhi with tractors only," he said.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, with around 3,000 tractors, are stuck at three borders that were blocked by police and paramilitary troops with barricades.

Clashes between farmers and security forces, including cane charges and tear gas canisters dropped by drones, have played on television screens for several days. The farmers say at least one protester has died in the clashes while dozens have been injured on both sides.

The protesting farmers will also block railway lines across the country for four hours during the afternoon of March 10, Mann said.

Farmers are determined to continue protesting until their demands for higher support prices, backed by law, are met, Mann said.

The government announces support prices for more than 20 crops each year, but state agencies buy only rice and wheat at the support level, which benefits only about 6% of farmers who raise those two crops.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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